Amazing Humans Built This: the 1955 Dodge Custom Royal

1955 Dodge Custom Royal Lancer

Had enough of the ACDC? The AI Catastrophic Doomsday Conversation? Me too. Time to switch it up. I proudly present: the 1955 Dodge Custom Royal. Perhaps, even a Custom Royal Lancer (that nomenclature is a subject of heated debate amongst the old-timers). In light of my views on Tesla, Amazon, and Apple, I recently made a very radical decision: I purchased, with a fat stack of good ole ‘Merican Benjamins, a car. And not just any car.

A v8 monster… a naturally aspirated v8 monster (the Super Red Ram!) with a carburetor (kids, look it up). Manual steering. Manual brakes. No seatbelts. No Airbags. No CarPlay. No USB. No GPS. No 5G. Not a single silicon chip, in fact. No Bumpers. No Crumple Zones. No plastic. Solid American Steel, tip to trunk. Welcome to my New Old World. Welcome to my New Car.

Buying her: the “Rationale”

Rationale? Ha! Quite simply, there was none. I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I finally bought her. And I certainly had no idea about the journey that I was about to embark upon (liberally paraphrasing Joseph Campbell: “We look into the chasm. We don’t know why, but we jump. And so begins the Hero’s Journey.”)

I saw her (yes, she is a “she.” As are all good ships.) on the street, I was in need of transportation, and she fascinated me. One day, on a whim, I decoded the very faded phone number on the “for sale” sign in her back window, and dialled the number. No answer. I called again the next day. No answer. I left a message. No one ever called back. I dropped it.

Or not. On my daily bicycle commute, every once in a while, I would see her again, sitting on the open street. Calling to me with her two-tone paint scheme. Seducing me with her glorious visual cacophony of curvaceous, blinding chrome.

1955 Dodge Custom Royal:
the Ultimate Luddite Wheels

  • Zero chips
  • The 3,000 pound go-kart
  • No seatbelts, no bumpers, no airbags
    …which leads to…


No Texting & Driving in this Whip

  • Driver vigilance (the opposite and the same as a bicyclist)

The 1955 Dodge is a Symbol

she is a symbol of whatever the observer chooses, just like that towering neon Burning Man standing tall in the middle of the barren desert. She does tend to stand out. She does tend to make a statement. For many people, clearly, it is a powerful symbol that motivates them to action, to expression, to break down the social inhibition and to say:

“Hello” in whatever form they choose: a wink, a thumbs up, a jumping out of the bus, a running straight towards it screaming, a jumping up and down on the sidewalk yelling “That! Is! So! Cool!”

Young, old, men, women, everything in between

  • “Look at that car”
  • “Its shaped so weird”
  • “It’s probably one of those new electrics!”
  • Meeting people from all walks of life,
  • Listening to their stories
  • The car is a conversation starter

the 1955 Dodge Custom Royal is a Statement

One symbol is subtle, and it is what I choose to inbue her with. That symbol is a statement. And in that vein, she says:

  • Old things are still useful
  • Old things are worth preserving and maintaining
  • I represent a stark contrast to “disposable culture”
  • When she breaks, she gets fixed.
  • She is seventy years old, and (after her initial rejuvenation) still purrs like a 6-month old kitten.
    (she also, when pushed, roars like an Alpha Male Lion)

She has “character”

  • She talks: the growls, the whistles, the pops, the pings, the squeaks… everything tells you something


the 1955 Dodge Custom Royal is fixable. by. Humans.

I don’t need a dealership mechanic with $100,000 worth of specialized tools and diagnostic computers that only work on my brand of car. In fact, I am finding, for 95% of the repairs I am making, my toolbox consists solely of:

  • a 9/16″ socket wrench
  • a Philips-head (not Torx, not StarBitz) screwdriver
  • one can of WD-40 (aka miracle juice)
  • a rubber-coated 12-pound hammer.

You read that right. A fucking hammer! When she’s out of alignment, or a piece doesn’t fit quite right, or a hinge is stuck: Bang that thing! She can take it!


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